We know all of the “good” ones. We know the ones about receiving blessing, joy, peace, abundant life, eternal life, about knowing truth and grace… all of the great promises of Jesus. All of His words are laced through and through with love and power. He is God in the form of man with all of the authority of heaven. His words are profound and are worthy of us hanging each and every moment of our life on their truth.
After all, Jesus saw the world from a completely different perspective than any other. Remember: all things were created for, by, and through Him. No one else has ever had that perspective. No one else ever will. He is not a teacher… He is The Teacher.
We love His promises. And then there is the promise we would rather skip: “This world will give you trouble” (John 16:33). Though we wish it were not true, we must know that these are still the trustworthy words of the Lord. And we, who have an ear, must hear what the Lord is saying today to His church because this promise is ringing true.
Every. Single. Day.
If you will allow, I would like to issue 4 challenges to the Church:
#1 Please stop being surprised
A promise is a promise, especially one from the Lord of all the earth. This world will give us trouble. This world will be filled with trouble. In other words, stop assuming otherwise.
Why do we get so mad at a fallen world for acting like a fallen world? Why do we assume that people should “know better?” Why do we expect non-Christians to portray the righteousness of God? Have we duped ourselves into believing that the faith of our country’s founders will automatically carry over and continue through the life of our nation and our fellow Americans?
Instead of being surprised by the actions of our world, let’s concern ourselves with our reactions to our world.
#2 Please stop complaining
Far too often, this seems to be the initial reaction of Christians. We throw our hands up physically and emotionally in disgust. Should we be disgusted? Absolutely, but instead of throwing our hands up in a gesture that profits nothing, let’s throw our hands out to our neighbor who is in need of light in this dark.
The plight of our current culture should not move us to complaints. It must move us to action. It must move us to illuminate the difference between the righteousness of God and its result, versus the unrighteousness of our world and its end result.
Jesus promised: we will be troubled by this world. It is a promise. Welcome to the result of sin. We don’t want it to be this way. We know there is an alternative. but there is a world of people who don’t know the alternative and are waiting for the Church to show it to them. How can they know if they have not heard?
#3 Please stop engaging only in virtual arenas
Send your tweet. Post your status. Engage in conversations online. It has some worth. Some. That is, if you took the time to contemplate and filter your thoughts before you post. Know that the reality of our world, which is suffering and crumbling, needs the church to engage within reality not just the virtual.
Our dark world needs the light of Jesus to be loud in the real world, not just the virtual. Jesus is the real Savior, not virtual. Jesus is the real Solution, not virtual.
Love can be expressed in virtual relationships, but it cannot be demonstrated. Virtual conversations do little to affect reality. We must engage the troubled reality from within reality. We must use hugs more than we use #hashtags. We must engage face to face more than on Facebook. The world needs the church to put down our iPhones, pick up our crosses and love our neighbor. Our neighbor is not the person that comments on our tweet. Our neighbor is the flesh and blood that lives outside of our front door.
#4 Please start remembering the victory of Jesus
After all, this truly terrible promise of Jesus was followed with this statement of infinite truth: “Take heart, I have overcome the world”. What hope! The world is temporary and defeating. Jesus is eternal and victorious!
Pick up your head, you who follow Christ and are covered by His grace. We see past the trouble and see hope. We see victory. It reminds me of one of the great hymns of the faith, Victory in Jesus:
“I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.”
Take heart, you weary traveler. Take heart, you son or daughter of God. Take heart because your citizenship rests in a place of perfection and glory. We look forward to being away from this troublesome world. In the meantime, we cry “Dear Jesus, come and heal our broken spirit.”
Jesus, heal our spirit and give us strength and courage to show this healing to our neighbor who so desperately needs it.